9/25/2013 12:32:00 PM Former Cook County commish gets 6 months in prison
CHICAGO (AP) — William Beavers, a brash former Cook County commissioner who once compared himself favorably to a virile hog, was sentenced Wednesday to six months in prison for tax evasion.
Beavers, who exuded a you-can’t-touch-me persona during his more than a quarter-century as a leading Chicago Democrat, didn’t speak before he was sentenced in a Chicago federal courtroom. He could have been sentenced to up to three years behind bars.
Beavers, 78, was convicted in March of four tax evasion counts for failing to declare campaign cash as income after spent thousands of dollars on slot machines. Prosecutors said he lost $500,000 over the course of several years, sometimes writing himself one $2,000 campaign check after another on daylong gambling binges, and that he needed a steady, untaxed flow of cash to feed his habit.
Beavers has repeatedly claimed the government charged him in retaliation for his refusal in 2009 to wear a wire against Commissioner John Daley, the brother of former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.
Prosecutors sought a nearly two-year sentence, and defense attorneys asked for probation.
In a presentencing filing, prosecutors argued Beavers actions were all the more brazen because he had watched so many other politicians imprisoned.
“Beavers committed this criminal conduct while maintaining a front row seat for the long and sordid history of public corruption in Chicago and Illinois,” they said.
Defense lawyers have argued Beavers’ behavior was a case of no harm, no foul: They say Beavers regarded the money from his campaign as non-taxable loans and paid most of it back. He only did so after learning in 2009 he was under investigation.
Prosecutors note that Beavers took steps to conceal his use of campaign money at casinos, once falsely indicating on a check stub that money was used to print campaign signs.
The charges included accusations Beavers failed to declare more than $68,000 in campaign money he put in a city fund to nearly double his monthly alderman’s pension from $2,900 to $6,500 a month.
Beavers maintained his trademark swagger from his indictment through his trial.
After his conviction, he also criticized his judge, James Zagel, accusing him of bias. Zagel is the same judge who gave former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich a stiff 14-year prison sentence for corruption.